Coronavirus

Should the new normal have a new identity?

Sunil Jain, CEO of Hero Future Energies, writes about the silver linings that have emerged from the Covid-19 crisis, and learnings we should take along in the world that is now forming

Updated: Jun 25, 2020 06:49:21 PM UTC

Sunil Jain is Chief Executive Officer of Hero Future Energies

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Image: Shutterstock

As we speak, the new way of life for business, work, travel etc. are being written, while we continue our fight against the worst pandemic seen by humankind in the last century. We are all left to wondering how long the crisis will last and what behavioral deviations the new normal will bring in.

Are we missing out the bigger picture?

A crisis brings out the best of any living object, be it mankind or the natural world. I wish that the new –‘new normal’ beyond Covid-19 shapes up to include transformative changes to enable us to re-create our relationship with land, biodiversity, and climate.

Taking cues from William Wordsworth’s poem: “The world is too much with us…
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours.
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

Secondly, incidents in the recent past have got me intrigued. My mind has been circling around the theories of capitalism vs. socialism vs Marxism—Who is more worried about livelihoods, the ‘Haves’ or the ‘Have-nots’? The current reverse migration of labourers has overwhelmingly signalled that they prefer ‘lives’, and ‘livelihood’ can wait. Despite the government’s hurried opening of businesses, retaining the migrants to their locations has not cut much ice with poor and harried.

Thirdly, the list of terminologies / concepts around new norms continues to grow with the numerous channels to voice our opinion in today’s digital world. My sincere hope is that in this ‘infodemic’, we should not forget the age-old success formula of trusting one’s instincts in decision making, rather than basing it alone on a set of guidelines.

It is essential to highlight the collateral advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic, till the time sustainability becomes the new normal; just as social distancing, masking or ‘Namaste’ developed as etiquette worldwide.

Being a Delhiite, I cannot even recollect after how many decades I have now seen blue skies, twinkling stars, a clear vision of the recent full moon or a clean and blue Yamuna. These days, we even get to see some exotic bird species.

World over, carbon dioxide emissions are down by 7 percent, a number which could not be achieved by the best of treaties and hundreds of conferences across the world. And we were told that vehicles were responsible for only a small portion of air pollution and pollutants, but with all vehicles off the road, I leave it to people to judge for themselves.

Other positives from the lockdown phase that I hope will continue would be to stay connected with friends and prioritise health. Health rules our conversation these days, where many people have found that their new blood pressure or sugar levels are in the normal range. I have observed same for myself. Many asthma patients I know have not used their puffs for a month now.

This period of lockdown has made individuals go back to their drawing boards to figure out ‘how ‘little’ is ‘too much’ for living?’ For businesses, this has been a time to assume a broader societal role, use technology to its brim and applying their time to learn and unlearn, to tackle the new-new normal. For businesses, resiliency and collaborative approach emerged as a clear winner in the new world.

Whether my wishes become a reality or remain a dream depends on our capability to retain our learnings. Will we insist on going back to the old normal, where we prioritised money and fame to sustainable living and sanctity of human life? Do we need another virus to shake us up?

I definitely do not want to wake up to business as usual; mankind loses that game of snakes and ladders to the snake at 99!

The writer is Chief Executive Officer of Hero Future Energies

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